Criminal Misconduct by City Councilmember Margaret Chin Alleged

NEW YORK, NY, September 7, 2017.  – Today, attorney and City Council Candidate Aaron Foldenauer filed a formal complaint against Lower Manhattan City Council Member Margaret Chin and her Chief of Staff Paul Leonard, alleging that they have committed several criminal offenses by using City resources to gain an unfair advantage in Chin’s reelection campaign.

The complaint has been submitted to the Manhattan District Attorney, the New York City Department of Investigation, and the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board.  If charged, Chin and Leonard would face up to a year in jail, a $10,000 fine for each violation, and suspension or removal from office and employment.

“Fair and free elections are the heart and soul of this country,” Foldenauer said.  “When incumbents like Margaret Chin exert their power to unlawfully secure additional resources and tip the scales in their own favor, it is a slap in the face of democracy.”

This complaint comes on top of a previous complaint filed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which alleged that Chin and Mayor Bill de Blasio directed security officials to seize opposing political literature from members of the public at a Town Hall meeting.  “Unfortunately, Margaret Chin continues to show flagrant disregard of the law,” Foldenauer said.

“Chin and Leonard have been working in concert to usurp City resources to directly benefit her campaign.  Not only is that unfair, but it’s also against the law,” Foldenauer said.  “It is particularly brazen that Leonard himself, a paid City employee, is working on campaign press releases and serving as a campaign press release during his workdays.”

The criminal acts allegedly committed by Chin and Leonard include:

  • using City resources to recruit City Council interns to work for Chin’s reelection campaign;
  • improperly using official City Council interns as campaign staff, and directing them to do things such as hand out Chin campaign literature and hold Chin campaign signs; and
  • Leonard’s use of his workdays to manage Chin’s reelection campaign and send out press releases issued on Chin’s campaign website instead of performing his official duties as a paid employee of the City.

“There’s good reason for New York law to treat this misconduct as a crime,” Foldenauer explained.  “This gives Chin an inequitable advantage over her competition in her hotly contested bid to retain her seat in City Council—to the detriment of the residents of District 1 and other New York City residents.”

Now the subject of several criminal allegations and faced with a strong grassroots challenge by Aaron Foldenauer, Chin is behind in her beleaguered bid to retain her City Council seat.  Respondents to the only scientific poll taken in the race accorded Foldenauer 58% of the vote, whereas Chin received only 18% of the vote.  BatteryPark.TV, the media organization that sponsored the poll, utilized random sampling techniques and reported that the poll had a statistical confidence level of 95%.

Foldenauer was quick to point out that these criminal offenses were particularly upsetting, given that Lower Manhattan is still healing from the wounds inflicted by the practices of Lower East Side native Sheldon “Shelly” Silver, the former speaker of the New York State Assembly.  Silver’s corruption charges and criminal conviction are now undergoing appellate review.

“Downtown has not yet healed from the wounds inflicted by the scandals surrounding Sheldon Silver,” Foldenauer said.  “Here in Lower Manhattan, do we really want another sitting politician on trial for corruption?”

A full copy of the complaint is available here and the Exhibits to the Complaint are available here.

Aaron Foldenauer is an accomplished attorney and practiced at several of the leading law firms in New York City for over a decade.  Aaron practiced business and intellectual property litigation and has conducted significant pro bono work in the community and for a number of low-income artists.

Foldenauer has lived in Lower Manhattan for nearly a dozen years.  Aaron graduated as the valedictorian of Hampden-Sydney College with a degree in economics.  He earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  More information about Aaron and his policies can be found at and his Facebook page,


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